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13 Smart Ways To Improve Any Classic Casserole Recipe

Pin it for later, tater.

Zoë Burnett / Buzzfeed

1. Swap white rice for brown rice or quinoa to easily add a bit more protein and fiber to the dish.

 

Just make sure you adjust the liquid ratio accordingly (especially if the rice or quinoa isn’t cooked before adding it to the casserole). You can read more about quinoa and brown rice here. Get the recipe for this Cheesy Corn Quinoa Casserole here.

2. Drop biscuits on top of your favorite chili recipe to instantly turn it into a casserole-worthy dish.

Or whatever other casserole recipe you love — biscuits are always a good idea. Read the recipe for this Barbecue Chili Cheese Biscuit Casserole here.

3. Or instead dressing it up with biscuits, use tater tots.

 

Similar concept, except with taco filling instead of chili filling (but you could totally mix it up however you wanted, or just use your favorite casserole filling). Find the recipe for this Taco Tater Casserole here.

4. Or a sheet of crisp phyllo dough.

Better Homes & Gardens

This Chicken Phyllo Bake layers the phyllo between a chicken-spinach mixture, but you could also just unroll one sheet on top of your favorite traditional casserole recipe.

5. When you make one casserole recipe, double (or triple, or quadruple) it and freeze the extras.

You can buy tins at the grocery store for this express purpose. Then when it’s time to eat, just pop it out of the freezer, heat in the oven, and dig in (these also make a good gift for people who have just had a child or who are going through a hard time). Find the recipe for this Freezer Chicken & Rice Casserole here.

6. You can also freeze just the filling, then sprinkle with fresh breadcrumbs and cheese just before baking.

Read more about this technique and get the recipe for this Chicken Broccoli Rice Casserole here.

7. If you freeze your casserole, make sure you allow enough time for it to defrost in the fridge.

You’ll at least need to put it in the fridge overnight, and you might have to keep it there for up to two days (depending on the ingredients and how thick it is). You want it defrosted all the way through, including the middle, so it has the ~best flavor and texture~ when you pull it out of the oven. Baking a partly thawed casserole will mean that all the ingredients will be overcooked by the time the center is hot. Get the recipe for this eggplant, lamb, and potato Moussaka here.

8. Anytime you’re cooking pasta to go into a casserole or baked pasta dish, make sure you undercook it a bit — so it ends up al dente.

 

It’ll keep cooking (and cooking…and cooking) when it goes in the oven, and when it sits in the hot pan after it’s done baking. So to make sure it’s not overcooked by the time it goes in your mouth, undercook it at the beginning. Get the recipe for this Baked Ziti here.

9. Replace lasagne noodles with slices of eggplant to pack in a few more veggies.

 

Simply slice the egg plant, brown it a bit in a skillet (so it’s flexible enough to actually act like pasta and doesn’t get soggy), and use it like you would lasagne noodles. Get the recipe for these Eggplant Stuffed Shells here.

10. Speed things up by using store-bought rotisserie chicken as the “cooked chicken” in any recipe.

It can cut your casserole cooking time in half AND it’s super flavorful. Get the recipe for this Chicken Noodle Casserole here.

11. Easily customize different people’s dinners by dividing the filling into individual ramekins, instead of one casserole dish.

Kiddo allergic to onions, but your spouse can’t get enough? Add in the onions to just one or two of the bowls, and keep them away from the others (and the rest of the prep process).

This will also let you cut the baking time down by about half (but make sure you pay attention to these in the oven if you’re converting a different recipe so they don’t overcook). Get the recipe for these Easy Quinoa Pizza Bowls here, and get a set of 6 ramekins for $12.95 here.

12. Or if the flavors are right, stuff it into spaghetti squash halves.

This trick does add a little cooking time, but it packs in the extra veggies. To do it, you soften and roast the spaghetti squash first, then add the casserole filling and topping and bake it all together again. Read more about the technique and get the recipe for these Greek Yogurt Spinach & Artichoke Stuffed Spaghetti Squash here.

13. Once your casserole is out of the oven, load it up with toppings.

This Vegetarian Black Bean Chilaquiles Casserole is even better with the avocado, cilantro, sour cream, and fresh lime squeeze — all of which happen after it comes out of the oven.

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